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Senate Appropriations Staff Director Houy Retires, Kieffer Returns to Post

The Senate Appropriations Committee announced Friday that its staff director is retiring, but his successor has no shortage of experience.

Charles J. Houy is leaving after three decades of service, working primarily for the Defense subcommittee under former Sens. Ted Stevens, John C. Stennis and Daniel K. Inouye.

“I thank Staff Director Charlie Houy for his generosity and help during the transition as I became Chairwoman,” committee Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., said in a statement. “Charlie has been the Senate’s leading expert on the defense budget for most of that time, and became the 23rd Staff Director of the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2009. His tireless contributions to our nation have been outstanding.”

Houy has been one of Roll Call’s Fabulous 50 list of staffers, and is known as a foremost expert on the ins and outs of the federal budget.

Mikulski became chairwoman following Inouye’s death late last year. Having not previously served as chairwoman of a full committee, Mikulski did not have an abundance of aides to bring on board herself.

With Houy’s retirement, Charles Kieffer will return to the role of staff director for the full Appropriations Committee, a post he held from 2007 to 2009 under Chairman Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va. When Inouye assumed the chairmanship, Houy moved from the Defense Appropriations subpanel to the full committee. Kieffer stayed with Byrd at the Homeland Security subcommittee. Later, he continued in that role under chairwoman Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., where he has been an adviser on spending debates about disaster aid and other issues.

Mikuski also announced other committee staff changes. Gabrielle Batkin will become the deputy chief of staff under Kieffer. She’s worked for the panel since 2001, most recently as the clerk for the Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee long chaired by Mikulski. Margaret Cummisky will shift from deputy staff director to general counsel. Cummisky came to the appropriations staff from the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which had previously been chaired by Inouye.

In announcing the moves, Mikulski praised Kieffer and Batkin as “problem solvers who will complement the great staff of the Committee.

“I will rely on their experience, judgment, and dedication to assist me in leading the Appropriations Committee staff, fulfilling my Constitutional responsibilities of the power of the purse, and meeting the day-to-day and long range needs of the nation and of Maryland,” Mikulski said.

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